Innovation in health services delivery key to a healthy Australia

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has called on all parties seeking election on 2 July to commit to resourcing and supporting health systems research and innovative approaches to health services delivery.

“Australia has a high quality health system delivering world-class health outcomes for many. However for some groups health outcomes are poor, and as the population ages, rates of chronic disease increase and consumer demand grows, the health system is under increasing pressure,” AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven said.

“Innovative approaches to health services delivery, underpinned by a strong evidence base, will be required to respond to these challenges.”

All reforms to the health system must be patient-centred, sustainable and adequately funded, be evidence-based and data-informed, and must look beyond siloed issues and consider their impacts on the broader health system.

Initiatives such as the Health Care Homes trial should include a robust evaluation methodology which focuses on improvements in health outcomes as well as value for money. Work being undertaken in the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) review should be informed by the Choosing Wisely program and its evidence-based approach to identifying low-value or no-value investigations and treatments based on current evidence.

The review should include consideration of new MBS items which support workforce innovation and models of care including the Health Care Home and Hospital in the Home programs, as well as telehealth and e-health strategies. The My Health Record infrastructure will be key to a better integrated health system.

Further discussion and action is needed on the impact of climate change on health. Benefits of acting on climate change include reductions in cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous system diseases, and reducing the risk of ischaemic heart disease, dementia and depression by switching to active transport options like walking and cycling. There are opportunities to bring together preventive health strategies with innovative responses to climate change, which would have broad social benefits as well as health benefits.

As participants in a recent AHHA Think Tank on the future of health care noted, innovation is possible not only through the adoption of technology-intensive health care and treatments, but about better use of the resources we already have available, including low-technology solutions. To maximise these opportunities and in line with the findings of the McKeon Review, investment in health systems research is required, including availability of funding and support for emerging researchers.

Whoever wins the 2 July election must work with the health sector to avoid the trap of identifying multiple single concept innovations and calling them system reforms. The real win will be when we future proof the health system, currently struggling under the weight of demand. More of the same is not the answer.  

Read more: AHHA Position Statement: Efficiency in the Health System
AHHA Position Statement: Hospital In The Home
AHHA Position Statement: Climate Change and Health
Report from AHHA’s Think Tank: Looking over the horizon – where to next for the Australian Health System?
Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research

Media enquiries:
Alison Verhoeven
Chief Executive, The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association
0403 282 501